Second Hearing in Netanyahu Corruption Trial to Be Held Sunday

Prime minister’s lawyers expected to request additional time to study investigative material

Netael Bandel
Netael Bandel
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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, wearing a mask, stands inside the courtroom as his corruption trial opens at the Jerusalem District Court May 24, 2020.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, wearing a mask, stands inside the courtroom as his corruption trial opens at the Jerusalem District Court May 24, 2020. Credit: RONEN ZVULUN/ REUTERS
Netael Bandel
Netael Bandel

The second hearing in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s corruption trial is set for Sunday at the Jerusalem District Court, and will focus on the additional amount of time to be given to Netanyahu’s lawyers to study the investigative material.

The first hearing on this issue was held in May, during which it was agreed that Netanyahu’s lawyers would be given two months, after which the court would move on to discuss the rest of the time frame.

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Netanyahu’s lawyers, headed by Amir Hadad, are expected to argue that they should receive considerably more time to study the material given its extensive nature and failures and problems they say the prosecution showed in organizing the material. They are also expected to say that due to attorney Micha Fettman’s resignation and attorney Yossi Segev joining the team, the latter needs more time to study the material.

The judges – panel head Rivka Friedman-Feldman, Moshe Bar-Am and Oded Shaham – ruled that in this second hearing only the defense attorneys would be present, not the accused. In the previous hearing Fettman argued that the evidentiary phase of the trial should begin only in March of 2021. Attorneys Jack Chen and Michal Rosen-Ozer, who are representing Shaul and Iris Elovitch, respectively, and attorney Navit Negev, representing Arnon Mozes, Netanyahu’s co-defendants, also pointed out the extent of the investigative material.

The Jerusalem District Court on Salah ad-Din Street, East Jerusalem, where Benjamin Netanyahu's trial will be heldCredit: Emil Salman

The prosecutor in the Netanyahu case, Deputy State Attorney Liat Ben-Ari, told the court: “Had we started today I would have said we need three to four months [to study the materials], but this case was not born today.” Ben-Ari said Netanyahu’s attorneys had received “the core of the investigative material over a year ago” and that “his attorneys are the same attorneys,” adding that Hadad “was there all along the way.” Ben-Ari requested that the first hearing of the evidentiary phase be held as soon as possible, and said it was in the public interest to do so.

Rosen-Ozer, who is representing Iris Elovitch, countered that on the contrary, it is in the public interest for the defense to properly prepare to defend the accused. “We did not come to delay, but to do the extensive work, and discern the difficulties, and these things take real time,” Rosen-Ozer said. “This is not a tug of war with the prosecution. Part of the public interest is the right to a fair trial and the prosecution had much more time than we did. And that doesn’t include the huge amount of digital material – video and audio, to transcribe it a tera disk [a terabyte of drive space] was needed, and that’s a huge amount.”

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